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#GlobalJustice Weekly / New ICC judges sworn in | Calls for Myanmar ICC referral | International Women's Day

The newly elected ICC judges © International Criminal Court

New ICC judges sworn in

The swearing in of six new ICC judges took take place this week in The Hague. Five women and one man had been elected at the 16th Session of the Assembly of States Parties in December.

Judges Luz del Carmen Ibañez Carranza (Peru), Solomy Balungi Bossa (Uganda), Tomoko Akane (Japan), Reine Alapini-Gansou (Benin), Kimberly Prost (Canada) and Rosario Salvatore Aitala (Italy) undertook the solemn oath this morning before ASP President H.E. Mr O-Gon Kwon, stating: 

"I solemnly undertake that I will perform my duties and exercise my powers as a judge of the International Criminal Court honourably, faithfully, impartially and conscientiously, and that I will respect the confidentiality of investigations and prosecutions and the secrecy of deliberations." 

Both H.E. Mr O-Gon Kwon and ICC President Silvia Fernández de Gurmendi welcomed the new judges at the ceremony, with the ICC President confident that, despite challenges currently facing the court, the efforts to enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of the Court will "be enriched by the new ideas and experience" of the judges. 

With five outgoing women judges, the Coalition campaigned before the election to ensure that female candidates were nominated and elected by states to ensure fair gender representation on the ICC bench.

Kirsten Meersschaert, director of programs, Coalition for the ICC said, "Having balanced gender representation on the ICC bench is not only conducive, but essential to ensuring more representative justice.”

 

Focus on gender crimes for International Women’s Day

The Coalition celebrated International Women's Day this year with recognition of the acheivements that the Rome Statute represents for women's rights. The Rome Statute's status as the first treaty adressing sexual and gender based crimes as international crimes, was highlighted by the Coalition's deputy executive director Jelena Pia Comella, who also stated that "much work remains to be done" in this area. The Coalition called for states to implement the Rome Statute and shift the domestic legal culture to promote gender equality through incorporating the treaty's SGBV provisions into domestic legislation.

UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, recognised the work of international women’s activists such as the late human right leader Asma Jahangir of Pakistan, and Jaha Dukureh of The Gambia, UN Women’s Regional Goodwill Ambassador for Africa. Mlambo-Ngcuka also acclaimed the role of international criminal justice and the ICC as a tool in empowering women to hold “to account those who used rape as a weapon of war”.

UN Secretary General’s message  centred around eliminating sexual exploitation and abuse, in which he stated “We at the United Nations stand with women around the world, [...] whether they are women refugees at risk of exploitation and abuse, or women who experience intersecting forms of discrimination: widows, indigenous women, women with disabilities and women who do not conform to gender norms.”

Luz Del Carmen Ibáñez, ICC judge-elect said, “On this International Women’s Day, I wish to send my warmest wishes to all women across the globe, especially those working or related to the world of justice. I want to call on all women to firmly believe in the equality of men and women - as I strongly do -, indeed, on gender equality, which is, after all, equality in rights and opportunities. I want to call on all women to never tolerate neither violence nor discrimination against us, and to never stop dreaming nor working towards reaching your goals…WE CAN DO IT”.

Our statement on International Women's Day 

 

Calls for Myanmar referral to ICC

The UN High Commissionor for Human Rights has called for Myanmar to be referred to the ICC for crimes they may have committed against the Rohingya population. Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein stated this week that "only a court can confirm" allegations and suspicions of genocide that have arisen. 

MEP Ms. Barbara Lochbihler, of Parliamentarians for Global Action, has also called for an amendment to an EU resolution condemning violence against the Rohingyas in Myanmar. The amendment calls on the Government of Myanmar to submit an ad hoc declaration of acceptance of the ICC jurisdiction, or, alternatively, urging the UN Security Council to refer the situation to the ICC. The amendment was strongly endorsed and adopted by the Plenary of the European Parliament.

Calls for Myanmar to be referred to the ICC have been gathering in the UK, as over 100 British parliamentarians sign a letter urging the UK to take a leading role in referring head of the Myanmar army General Min Aung Hlaing to the Court.  Civil society organisations such as Human Rights Watch have been pushing for the situation to be referred to the ICC since the failure of the Burmese authorities to investigate the situation.

The Myanmar army has called the action “one sided accusations” and has denied any violence in Rakhine state. Since the campaign began in August 2017, 700,000 Rohingya have fled to neighbouring Bangladesh from Rakhine state.

More on Myanmar

 

ICC investigations

Kenya: Attorney General Githu Muigai has said that Kenya has no plans to withdraw from the ICC, and has asked for the Court to have constructive engagement with Africa to try and improve the continent's relationship with the Court.  

Libya: The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs has called for the safe return of the forcibly displaced Tawerghan population in Libya. 40,000 Tawerghans were forcibly evacuated in 2011 as a form of collective punishment, and prevented from return to their homes by armed groups, for their perceived support of the Gaddafi regime. At the moment, more than 2,200 Tawerghans are living in IDP camps across Libya.

Mali: An attack on a UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in Mali  (MINUSMA) convoy has killed 4 UN peacekeepers and seriously injured 4 others. The attacks, carried out on the Mopti region, have been condemned by both the Security Council and Secretary-General Guterres; saying that they may constitute war crimes under international law.

DRC: 40 people have been killed during ethnic clashes in the north-east Ituri province of the DRC. The ethnic clash, between Hema herders and Lendu farmers, is the second deadly attack to hit the region in a month.

 

ICC preliminary examinations

Afghanistan: The Afghan Government has called for unconditional peace talks with the Taliban at the Kabul Process on Peace and Security Cooperation. Concessions made to the Taliban regime include a removal of sanctions against the group’s leaders, allowing the group to open a political office in Kabul, releasing certain Taliban prisoners and providing passports to Taliban members.

The move has been welcomed by the UN mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), stating that it “strongly supports the vision for peace through intra-Afghan dialogue and urges all parties involved to engage at the earliest time.”

Colombia: Colombia’s Memory and Conflict Observatory of the National Centre for Historical Memory has reported over 82,000 cases of enforced disappearances in the country between 1958 and November 2017. The Observatory found the Colombian paramilitary forces to be behind 62 percent of the disappearances, while the rest were carried out by guerrillas, demobilized groups, state agents and state-agent paramilitary groups.   

Philippines: President Duterte has ordered his police not to cooperate with any investigation into killings carried out during the country’s war on drugs. The call came after the Philippines welcomed any UN investigation into the drug-war with the caveat that it should be carried out in, what it calls, an unbiased manner.

 

Campaign for global justice

Argentina has become the first state party to the Rome Statute to sign all 4 cooperation agreements with the ICC. The two agreements – on interim release and release of ICC detained persons on Argentinian territory, pursuant to decisions of the Chambers of the Court – were signed by Ambassador H.E. Horacio Salvador and Registrar of the ICC, Herman Von Hebel. The move has been welcomed by various NGOs, with Parliamentarians for Global Action calling it a ‘historic’ event.

Parliamentarians for Global Action member Dip. Clemente Barrios met with Paraguay's Minister of Foreign Affairs Eladio Loizaga recently to discuss Cooperation Agreements with the ICC. The agreements would be a demonstration of Paraguay's commitment to international justice. 

The UN Committee for the Convention against Torture has issued a General Comment on article 3 of the convention. The Comment, which comes in response to the increase in applications to the committee because of the migrant crisis, puts in place guidelines that will help Governments assess whether asylum seekers sent back to their countries of origin face a personal risk of torture or ill-treatment. Earlier in the week the UN special rapporteur on torture estimated in a report to the Human Rights Council that approximately 7 million migrants around the world have been victims of torture.

 

Around the world

Syria: Aid trucks have reached Ghouta this week for the first time since the assault intensified in the area last month. The aid convoy was stripped of some medical supplied by the government before entering the area and left after the town was shelled.

Egypt: A video released by the Egyptian military has shown it is using illegal cluster bombs, according to Amnesty International. The video was released in connection with their recently announced military operation “Sinai 2018”, aimed at ending terrorism in the region.

Sri Lanka: Amnesty International has condemned attacks on Sri Lanka’s Muslim minority, and called for action by the authorities against those responsible. There are fears that failure to take action may “embolden” further attacks.